November 17 2007

Heliotrop by Rolf Disch

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The Heliotrop is a house and an office designed to be extremely responsive to the environment.  The house?s distinguishing feature is that it is circular and rotates to track the movement of the sun.  Even the name is derived from the Greek word meaning ?turned towards the sun.?  The house also meets the  German Plusenergiehaus standard for energy savings and production.  Rolf Disch, who also designed the Solarsiedlung project, used many technologies to create this house.

First, the house was built using pre-manufactured parts and pieces.  The primary structural material is glue-laminated wood beams.  Spruce was chosen because it is grown regionally and is a rapidly renewable material.  The glue-lam structural frame is connected to a central supporting column which is roughly 45ft (14m) high and which contains all of the plumbing, electrical connections, and other wiring.  At the base of the column is the rotation mechanism powered.  The house has 18 angles which form the complete house.  All walls, cabinets and other physical elements in the house are located on these radii to create an interior module for the house.  A spiral staircase running inside of the structural column links all of the spaces from the entry level to the roof deck.  An observation deck spirals around the entire structure and serves as deck space, solar screen and is the location for a series of solar hot water tubes. 

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The supporting column is mounted on a ring gear run by a low voltage electric motor that allows the building to rotate to best orient itself to the sun.  The sun facing side of the building is almost completely faced in triple layered U 0.5 glass.  The opposite side uses highly insulated opaque materials (U 0.12) to prevent heat loss through the non sun facing side of the house.  This configuration assures that the maximum amount of solar gain is absorbed through the facade on the sunny side and that minimal loss occurs through the back facade.  Because the house can rotate, the house is able to track away from the sun if the solar heat gain is too great during summer months and so the house can expose the opaque highly insulated side and reject that solar radiation. 

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Additional space heating, not provided by direct solar radiation gain in the spaces, is provided by evacuated solar hot water tubes which form the balcony rails around the exterior walkway and roof terrace of the house.  Heating is provided through several different strategies including radiant ceiling heat using copper segments.  The copper units can also be used for radiant cooling in summer months.  An earth-to-air heat exchanger is used for thermal storage and can provided both heating and cooling for the home. 

The solar power plant array on connected to the structural column produces ?five to six times? the energy required to run the home.  The system is also a biaxial tracking device to stay perfectly oriented toward the sun at all times.  The system uses a 6.6 kW array composed of 60 Siemens M110 L solar modules.

Rainwater is harvested on site for use in greywater applications such as cleaning and washing.  ?Wastes and excrements? are put into a dry compost system that does not produce bad smells whereas sewage is purified in a cascade pool lined with plants and other organics. 

?The overall concept of the Heliotrop demonstrates that low-energy construction method, free architectural design and exclusive quality of living comfort are by no means opposites, on the contrary, their combination leads to technically and aesthetically innovative solutions.?

Below is a slideshow of images from the Heliotrop.


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January 11th, 2008 at 3:29 AM

Greenline » Solarsiedlung by Rolf Disch

[...] on the project visit the Rolf Disch website or take a look at another project he designed called Heliotrope. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback [...]

February 18th, 2008 at 8:17 AM

Heliotrop-by Rolf Disch « Collab Studio

[...] Reference: Greenline [...]

May 27th, 2009 at 1:52 AM

Greenline Heliotrop by Rolf Disch | Shed Kits

[...] Greenline Heliotrop by Rolf Disch Posted by root 21 hours ago ( At the base of the column is the rotation mechanism powered staircase running inside of the structural column links all of the spaces from the entry level to the roof deck the copper units can also be used for radiant cooling in summer months post a comme Discuss  |  Bury |  News | greenline heliotrop by rolf disch [...]

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